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iHub UXlab By Mark Kamau / February 23, 2014

Practical UX Skills: Talking to people

1 Comment

We had a great kick off to the practical UX skills training. In many ways it was a getting to know each other session to find out who was who and their interests, but also learning real practical methods.

Often we say in User Experince practice that you need to talk to your users. How then do you do this? What are the tenets for example of a good interview with a person from whom you would like to learn?

This was the main topic Samantha Meritt, a visiting researcher dealt with on the day.

Here are 3 main takeaways from the training;-

Avoid leading questions

It is arguably the biggest pitfall when talking to people, especially about something we are passionate about and have some level of investment in. Sometimes  are desperate to validate our idea to the detriment of gathering nuggets of insights. Samantha actually said something I never thought about before. That sometimes we even lead subconsciously. Think about that for a moment. Tricky isn’t it?


Have childlike curiosity, seek stories

You should always seek to know why? Why do people ‘think’ or have a specific opinion? When was the last time you….. Extract stories based on actual experiences rather that questions that have ‘usually’. A good example I have always had has been when you ask a Kenyan youth what their hobbies are. They often say; swimming, travelling, reading novels…

The story however yields much more useful feedback when you ask when was the last time you had some free time? What did you do? This yields a totally different  set of answers and with much more insightful feedback.


Differ judgment

The human brain is intelligent and often assigns an opinion/judgment to an environment and discussion. Often, we don’t really listen but are a few steps ahead planning a response or placing statements we hear in a box. It is rather difficult, but consciously defer your judgment. Only by truly listening do you get a new insight. Differ your experience and judgment and then you will learn. Lastly, always record the interview! (bonus, but too important to leave out J)


Learning Within a context

These sessions will be conducted within a very practical context where we apply the skills to an existing startup as a basis for practice. We have as the first startup on which the participants will apply the methods they learn.

Thank all of you who attended and signed up for the next class. We will be blogging about the next session in a fortnight, so keep watching this space.

Author : Mark Kamau

Mark Kamau is passionate about User Centered Design and the potential smartly designed technologies have to solve African challenges. He has over 10yrs experience in the multimedia space with regional and international experience. He is passionate about Africa, design thinking and technology in a global and localized, African context. He is the User Experience Lead at the iHub UX lab working with start ups, corporates and academics in the ensuring products built in Africa are user centric. He spends the rest of the time growing a user experience culture in Africa.

1 comment
  • Samantha Merritt at 13:05:54PM Thursday, February 27, 2014

    This was a good training day, and it was just our first one! We also learned about open and and closed ended interview questions, different kinds of analysis and when do try them. After some very good discussion we even started to address the cultural issues and potential problems that are inherent in interviewing at a communication interaction!

    Here is our follow-up plan if you missed it and you are interested in learning more.
    We will meet for lectures/talks about UX skills/tools/methods bi-weekly at 5:30pm on Wednesdays. Then, on the off-week we will meet on Fridays at noon to practice the skill learned during the previous week’s lesson towards helping our community start-up partner, Abacus. The group is meeting in the iHub UX Lab this Friday (Feb 28) at noon to practice what we learned last week–interviewing. See you there! Stop by the UX Lab or contact us to be sure we add you to our contact list if you would like to start attending or want more information.


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